Support at home

You might need some care and support at home due to cancer or its treatment. There is a lot of practical and emotional support available. 

GP and community nursing support

Your GP manages your healthcare when you are at home. They can help with any medical problems that come up. They can also make referrals to a community service for you. The availability of the different community services may vary, depending on where you live.

Community or district nurse

These nurses work in different places in your local area and may visit you in your home. They can:

  • give medicines or injections
  • check temperature, blood pressure and breathing
  • clean and dress wounds
  • monitor or set up drips
  • give emotional support
  • teach basic caring skills to family members where needed
  • get special equipment, such as commodes or bed pans

Community specialist palliative care nurse

Community specialist palliative care nurses include Macmillan nurses and hospice nurses. They specialise in symptom management such as pain control, sickness, and other cancer symptoms. They also give emotional support to you and your carers.

Marie Curie nurse

Marie Curie nurses give nursing care to people with advanced cancer in their own homes. They can visit during the day or spend the night in your home to give your carers a break.

Social workers

Social workers can help to support you with your situation at home. They can arrange:

  • home helps to help with shopping or housework
  • home care assistants for washing and dressing
  • meals on wheels
  • respite care

Your social worker can also help with money matters by checking you get all the benefits you are entitled to. Or they can advise you about charity grants for things like extra heating costs or special diets.

Contact a social worker yourself by getting in touch with your local social services office. Or ask your hospital nurse or your GP to refer you.


Dietitians play an extremely important role in managing diet problems in cancer. They can answer your questions and help you deal with any problems you have with eating. These might include difficulty eating or swallowing.

They can recommend specific meals, snacks and food. They can also show you how preparing certain foods might help you eat. For example, a pureed diet may help if you are having problems swallowing.

If you need it, your dietitian can plan a special diet to make sure you get all the calories and nutrients you need.

They may also recommend ‘meals in a drink’ that you can have if you can't face a meal. You can buy the drinks from a chemist or they are available on prescription. There are many other types of nutritional supplements which can help to boost your intake of nutrients. Your dietitian will advise you on these.

If you have a more serious problem and need drip or tube feeds, your dietitian will be very involved in this.

Local support services

There are many other sorts of help you can get. Services vary from place to place.

Sometimes local voluntary groups offer sitting services. Someone comes to stay with you while your relative goes out.

Good neighbour schemes offer befriending or practical help with shopping or transport.

Local cancer support groups often offer practical help. And they are a good source of information about services in your area. Ask your doctor or nurse about local groups.

Cancer Research UK nurses

For support and information, you can call the Cancer Research UK information nurses. They can give advice about who can help you and what kind of support is available. Freephone: 0808 800 4040 - Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
  • Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer. 
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), March 2004.

Last reviewed: 
06 Feb 2020

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